January 23, 2021

We watched a movie the other night… I thought it’d be a waste of time, but the kids really wanted to see it. OK… I can spare an hour and forty minutes, and who knows… it might be amusing. It’s called “Behind the Curve” (Netflix), and it’s all about Flat Earthers – the society whose members genuinely believe that the earth is flat. Or, pretend to. Or, are members for other reasons. OK, queue it up.

My assumption was that it’d be 100 minutes of idiots espousing theories that make no sense. Certainly, that was part of it. But above all that, there’s a genuine sadness to it, and some enlightening points that are incredibly relevant to today.

Of all the conspiracy theories out there, this is the one that’s most easily disprovable. For more than a thousand years, intelligent people have been devising experiments based on heights, distances, shadows and trigonometry… that show that the earth is a sphere. So good were some of these ancient experiments, that they were pretty-accurately able to calculate the diameter and circumference. This throws a bit of a wrench into the flat-earth conspiracy where millions of scientists, NASA employees and pilots are all in on it. You’d have to add Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and Archimedes to the list, among many others.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter – the details of how a flat earth could even be possible don’t add up, to the extent there’s disagreement within the group. Is there a giant dome, snow-globe-like, covering the heavens? If not, what are all the stars and planets attached to? Queue the internal bickering.

Shortly into the movie, you realize that there’s something a little off about these people. They’re not dangerously crazy… just… off. Something emotional that comes across as almost child-like… and then it becomes obvious. This is a support group for like-minded people who’ve found each other. They feel like they’re part of something big. They feel they get it, and everyone else doesn’t… and it’s their mission to educate the poor, ignorant masses.

They don’t mind being called stupid idiots by the rest of the world… not only because they’re used to it, but because, to some extent, they bask in it. Us versus them. We know. You don’t. And this is where the bigger-picture relevancy comes in. When everyone tells you what you believe in is nonsense, for many people, human nature dictates they double down. They entrench their belief and they will never let go of it and they will build (and share) crazier and crazier ideas to support something that’s actually unsupportable. Queue the madness.

Sound familiar? At least, these guys aren’t storming The Capitol. Let’s talk about a different sort of queue… just Q.

There’s an interesting thing going on in the U.S. (actually, around the world – apparently Japan has a big following as well…) – and I’m talking about Q and QAnon and all that. For years, their now-absent leader Q has been dropping hints about what’s about to happen. The original finish line was January 6th, when Trump would seize control via – heh, we know what that looked like. That didn’t work out so well, so the Qs shifted to believing the failed storming was part of a bigger plan; one that would now allow the president to invoke martial law, take back those key states, and continue the presidency. None of that happened, of course, and the smooth, quiet transition of power took place. Now what.

Typically, when conspiracies hit their finish line, one of a few things can happen. One is that people realize it’s nonsense and bail. Another is that they’re so sunk into it that they will continue the fight, no matter how senseless it might be. And another possibility is that they claim it all actually came to be, just as they said… and most people don’t realize it. There was a lot of that – all of it – in 2012 when the world didn’t end. Some people came to the conclusion it was all nonsense. Some people claim the math was done wrong, and the end is coming.. later in 2012 (didn’t happen) or maybe 2021. I guess if you keep pushing the date further and further, eventually you’ll be right. And, some claim, the world *did* end, and now we’re in some illusionary remnant version. For what it’s worth, if this is The Matrix, give me the blue pill. I’d rather ride out this illusion than battle aliens the rest of my life.

Q is seeing a lot of disillusioned people bail on them at present. They realize it must have been nonsense; they were duped. There is no master plan. For those not feeling so rudderless, they will continue the fight, though now I’m sure there’s confusion what that might look like. And… there are some who think it all worked out… and that, I kid you not, Trump is still in fact in the White House, and that he and Biden did some sort of face swap thing like in that John Travolta/Nicholas Cage movie. If you really need to keep holding on to this particular conspiracy, and that things are still in place, that’s where you wind up today.

And with these flat earth people… skirting the fine line between philosophy, art, science and madness… the final scene of the movie – I don’t think I’m giving too much away here by announcing that the earth is, indeed, a sphere (an oblate spheroid if you want to be perfectly technical about it… the earth is a little compressed at the poles and bulging at the equator, due to the spin)… so at the end of the movie, these guys have devised an experiment to prove the earth is flat. It’s pretty straightforward… attach a powerful laser to a stick 15 feet high. Point it to a big poster board a few miles away, also 15 feet high. If the laser hits it, clearly the earth is flat.

This is a sound experiment. At that distance, the curvature of the earth is not irrelevant. If you imagine the curve “kicking in”, that laser should hit about 21 feet high to compensate.

The guys wait for darkness and fire-up their well-calibrated laser. But nothing hits the board. “Jeez, what’s wrong”, they wonder. The laser is on, they really should see it. They move the big poster board around, but nothing.

“Try moving it up”, suggests one guy… so they do… they lift it 6 feet, and the bright laser comes splashing in.

“Oh.” says the guy.

Queue the credits.

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January 12, 2021

There was a presumed silver lining to this pandemic… that the masks and social distancing and just plain staying away from each other would lead to the number of seasonal colds and flus being less than usual. To be sure, those illnesses are around… and if you didn’t catch a cold this year, you’ll probably get it eventually… but, for that to happen, it has to get near you, and, like C19, if it can’t get close to you, it can’t infect you.

Catching a cold or flu is easier than C19; these things are generally more infectious. They’re also, of course, far less lethal… and the conventional trade-off with life in general is that you expect to get sick once in a while, especially during winter when these viruses/bugs are around, and our immune systems are more susceptible.

As per the CDC… let’s pick the 3rd week of December, where in 2019, 30,000 samples were tested for Influenza A…. 16.2% came back positive. This year, ie 2020, ie a few weeks ago… that same sample set of 30,000 came back with a positivity rate of… 0.3%. A drop of two orders of magnitude. Hugely statistically significant.

Some of that can be attributed to the fact that flu-shots were way up this year… but if you’re a rabid anti-vaxxer, you’ll have to pick your poison here… because something worked, and it worked very well. Was it the flu vaccines? Was it the masks and social distancing?

Whatever the cause (a lot of both is the answer), that’s a huge drop, and similar huge drops are being seen across the board of illnesses, including the common childhood infections of not just flu, but also croup and bronchiolitis.

As per above, it’s not that these things are gone… it’s just that they’re just more difficult to catch these days. Once measures are relaxed, these things will come back and numbers will be way up… but hopefully some of the measures we’ve become accustomed to stick around. The whole “hug-hug kiss-kiss everyone” that’s so prevalent in some cultures; good riddance. Go ahead and hug and kiss strangers if you like, but let’s make it optional and not frown on others who choose to not partake. And if you’re asking yourself “WTF is he talking about”, I’m guessing you’re Canadian, American, British… from one of these “low-contact” cultures.

There are cultures where saying hello with three kisses (alternate cheeks, start on the right) is the norm. In parts of France, that number is actually four. Heck, there are cultures where kissing on the lips (a quick peck, no tongue!) is a normal greeting. Latin American culture has a wide variety of customs, and they vary significantly from place to place… but they all have one thing in common; if someone is already sick, everyone will be getting sick.

At the risk of being accused of cultural appropriation, going forward, might I suggest what ancient cultures have been practicing for centuries: “Namaste”, or a similar bow – it conveys respect, and it respects personal space. And it also keeps the bugs far away.

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January 8, 2021

There’s a right way to do things… and a wrong way… and if you think I’m about to talk about the removal of Donald Trump from office… I might. But not today… there’s time for that later, and, as I’m writing this, the people capable of doing exactly that are thinking about the right way to do it. By the time I get around to writing about it, he might be gone. Wouldn’t that be cool. At least he’s been permanently removed from Twitter. Four years too late. But the same thing could be said about the entire presidency.

So, on a completely different topic, what’s the right way to build IKEA furniture? What’s the right way to land a plane? In many cases, you can just wing it, though it’s highly advisable to listen to the people who designed it, built it, and presented it to you with specific instructions. That’s probably the best outcome. The bookcase might be fine (nobody will notice you had to remove a panel and flip it around because you did it backwards the first time) and you might land the plane with too much fuel on a runway that’s too slippery… and not slide off the runway… but going against the design specs is never recommended. As the famous acronym RTFM says… Read… The… Manual…

I’ve been a big supporter of the vaccine and have cheered on Pfizer and Moderna and all the rest of them… and a big reason why is because I understand the process that went into their creation. I understand how it was done so quickly and where the bureaucratic corners were cut to save time and where the relevant science was kept pristine, specifically the clinical trials and testing and follow-up. Out of all of that detailed science came the very detailed instructions.

Nobody was too sure what these vaccines would look like when they finally emerged; the super-cold requirement of the Pfizer vaccine was unexpected. The fact you’d need two jabs instead of one… that was expected, but the timing between them wasn’t clear. Weeks? Months?

Pfizer came out with their vaccine… and, first thing, the temperature requirements. Here’s the number. Transport it at that temperature. Thaw it like this, mix it like that. Can we transport it a little warmer? No. Can we dilute it a bit differently? No. Can we thaw it for longer? No.

These “no” answers aren’t Pfizer trying to be difficult; it’s quite simply the range of what’s tested and what’s expected for the outcomes they’ve projected. Which is why there’s appropriately a lot of head-scratching and pushback on Dr. Bonnie Henry’s strategy of spacing out jabs, well-past the recommended time frame. Pfizer says space them three to four weeks apart. Moderna says four weeks. Dr. Henry wants to push it to 35 days. Why? Here’s her argument…

A first jab provides significant protection. Pfizer has said 52% after just one dose, though England’s own studies argue it’s 89%. Moderna is purported to be 80% after one dose. If the intention is to protect as many people as you can, then you try to get the vaccine into as many arms as possible… and you give everyone first doses and then wait around for the next shipment.

Apparently, the timing works out in such a way that if you stretch the time between shots a bit, more people can get that first one. Dr. Henry stated their plan was to use everything they got initially as first doses. That’s fine, if you can stick to the script. But… this on-the-fly modification, contrary to the specs from Pfizer?

I’ll be honest, if I signed up to get the vaccine with the understanding that I’d be getting the follow-up shot within the specified time period… and was later told, no… we’re going to do it a bit differently… I’d be upset. I might have chosen to wait a bit, until I can be guaranteed the right period of time is being adhered to. There is already enough vaccine anxiety out there; a lot of people are skeptical and worried and, while not being anti-vaxx, want to make sure things go well before they take it themselves. To introduce a variable into this equation that can, at best, maintain the status quo but, at worst, derail things… seems like a bad idea. If a bunch of once-vaccinated people become ill, now we have to figure out why and when and how – did the vaccine fail? Were they infected between jabs… or did they not develop the proper immunity, thanks to the spacing of doses? This would do nothing to instill confidence. On the contrary.

I didn’t sign up to be a test subject, to test the boundaries of efficacy. Around here, nobody did. That doesn’t mean this will cause problems… certainly, it might be ok. In fact, other jurisdictions, under the same plan of “get the first one into as many people as possible”, are stretching that time even further. In Denmark, up to six weeks. In the U.K., up to 12(!) weeks.

But let’s be clear, when you introduce a variable, this is no longer an execution of a plan. This is now an experiment, and the BCCDC may as well be tracking the results of playing with these time frames, as should the U.K. and Denmark; collect the data… because if there are issues down the road, it will be useful to know. It’d be also be useful to know that 35 days (or 42 or 84) works just as well as 28.

I’m guessing their thinking is that “pretty good” for a lot of people is better than “really good” for far fewer people… especially when “pretty good” might actually turn out to be “really good” as well.

Except… that’s not what a lot of people signed up for; if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. The argument that this is “right” or “right enough” doesn’t hold a lot of water when the designer/manufacturer itself doesn’t agree. I think for a lot of people, myself included… we’ve waited this long, and we can probably wait a little longer… there’s just too much at stake.

Who was the great mind that came up with this quote… Plato? Socrates? Nietzsche? Oh yeah, no… it was Eminem: “You only get one shot to take your shot so don’t blow it.” Or something like that. See what happens when you veer off-script? Sometimes it doesn’t work so well.

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January 4, 2021

Imagine a parallel universe… there’s an earth there too, and everything is pretty similar. They’re going through a C19 pandemic as well, but it’s a little different. On that parallel earth, the virus behaves quite differently. There, it’s very, very contagious. So contagious, in fact, that by the time people realized it even existed, everyone already had it. The good news is that as contagious as it was, it seemed relatively harmless. No big deal.

Except, as time went on, it was realized that the longer it lingered in your body, the worse it got. It’d mutate inside of you and, over time, make you sicker and sicker. The fact it mutated so easily made it difficult to formulate a vaccine… but, great news, there was a simple way to purge this thing; the more you associated with other people, the better the outcomes. It seemed that people breathing all over each other and sharing their exhaust would provide others with the anti-virus tools their bodies needed to heal… and, the more variety you got, the better.

The provincial health orders went out; nobody go to work; instead, congregate with as many people as you can. Big, thick crowds, ideally strangers. Pack the gyms, sweat… and breathe all over each other. Tight spaces with little ventilation are ideal. Spread the goodness around. Party on. Spend as much time with as many different people as you can. It’s for the greater good.

The government begins offering people 2 grand a month to not work, but instead… just socialize. Wealthy people rent out entire venues… clubs downtown, Rogers Arena… even BC Place. Come one, come all – free food and drinks (within reason) as long as you promise to stay at least 3 hours and mingle with as many strangers as you can. Tens of thousands of people show up every night; needless to say, this is embraced by a tremendous amount of people. This year becomes the best and most memorable time of their lives.

For others, though… it becomes a nightmare. For the introverts of the world, being forced to party and mingle – with strangers, no less – is as far out of their comfort zone as it gets. Once in a while… maybe. But every single night?

So… these people start looking for ways to duck the orders… what if we don’t go out every night? What if it’s with a few people, not just huge crowds? What if it’s in a private place, not out in public? What if it’s with some people we know, not just all strangers?

“Covidiots!!”, yell the masses, “… stop trying to bend the rules. Stop trying to think you’re special. Get the hell out there, party and mingle and meet as many strangers as you can. It’s for the greater good!”

Crowds of people go door to door, banging on doors, shaming those who’ve chosen to stay home. “Save your books and chess and Netflix for next year!!”, they scream in your face, “It’s your responsibility! It’s your duty! Get the hell out here… come on man, there’s this great Rave going on in this warehouse in Chilliwack… like 5,000 people… it’s on till 6am!! Let’s go!!”

Personally, I am an affirmed introvert. I score 90% in those personality tests where it comes to introvert/extrovert. So, while for me, the isolation part of this pandemic has been no big deal, I’m well aware the mental toll this is taking on others. How would I feel having to go out every day, partying all night with a bunch of strangers? If we flip all of these circumstances around, how would I feel? When I think about what I just described, if I had to live like that… I think I’d be losing my mind. And so, I realize… that for people for whom that’s the norm, this has all been a significantly bigger struggle.

I know people who spend 200 days a year traveling… airports, airplanes and hotels are their norm; their safe space; their comfort zone. Being forced into this present experience is just as jarring as it’d be to me to have to leave this comfort zone of mine and party all day. Actually, it’s probably far more jarring for them; if the entire world is your office, your workspace, your play-zone… having all that disappear, pretty-much overnight… it’s a huge jolt.

I say all this because while I’m firmly on the “follow the rules/get the vaccine/wear a mask in public/this will soon be over” bandwagon, I realize that for a lot of people, it’s far more easily said than done.

Later this month, January 28th, will be the tenth anniversary of the “Bell’s Let’s Talk” campaign, which aims to raise awareness around mental illness. It’s very clear what this year’s topic of discussion will be, because long after the virus is physically gone from our lives, the mental impact will linger.

For the moment, it helps us all to put ourselves in other people’s shoes… because talk is cheap, but actions speak louder than those words… and while it’s very easy for people to preach to others “Stay home!”, that’s a difficult ask for many, and we need to understand that.

“What’s the big deal – just stay home” – it works for me, but it might not work for you…and I sympathise. And hopefully one day, sooner than later, you can all be throwing your big parties. Feel free to invite me; I’ll probably show up for a bit, say hi… and then stand by the wall for a while… and sneak out when no one’s looking.

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October 9, 2020

If there were any doubts about there being a second wave here in Canada, that question seems to have been answered. We’re no doubt in it, and the question that remains is how bad might it get.

This is a big country… from here in Vancouver, St. John’s is not much closer than Tokyo. That’s a lot of space, in which the 38,000,000 of us are all navigating this journey differently.

Heading into the weekend… yesterday, B.C. crossed that “10,000 cases” line. Alberta will have crossed their 20,000 line by the time you read this. Comparatively speaking, Quebec has seen 10,000 new cases in only the last 10 days. Ontario will see its 3,000th death tomorrow.

As we head into this rainy weekend, I don’t have much more to add for today, but one thing… we won’t get updated local stats till Monday, and while I used to do some fancy math to extrapolate/guess what might be in store, I think I’ll back off from that. This isn’t a math exercise; each stat is a real person somewhere, just like you and me.

And wishing every one of those people a good start to this Thanksgiving weekend.

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September 24, 2020

When I was around 13, my mom’s cousin came to visit – from way far away; he and his family live in an industrial town in Slovakia. It was just him that came to visit, and he spent a week with us. I recall he arrived on Saturday morning, and we spent the weekend taking him around town, hitting a bunch of tourist sites. The beauty of Vancouver made a big impact on him; it was all very different from his typical surroundings.

On Monday morning, we all had breakfast together, and then it was time to go… my sister and I to school, my parents to work. They offered to take him downtown or drop him somewhere to look around, but no… he just wanted to chill at home. No worries. When we all left, he was sitting outside, on the deck, overlooking the backyard… with a cup of coffee and a cigarette in his hand.

Fast forward about 10 hours… I got home before anyone, and there he was, still sitting on the deck… the cup of coffee had transformed into a beer, and the ashtray was now overflowing with cigarette butts.

“Have you been sitting here all day?”

“Absolutely.”

OK… whatever melts your butter, I guess… but at the time, I do remember thinking how insanely boring that must have been. I thought about everything I’d done that day (a lot) and compared it with what he’d done (nothing).

The next day, it was the same thing… a full-on 10-hour chill. A few cups of coffee, a few beers, a pack of smokes… and call it a day. And that was pretty much it for the rest of the week. Every single day, all he did was sit outside and stare into the garden.

The world’s most boring man, I thought, at the time.

I told him, at one point,

“I really can’t understand how you can just sit here all day.”

“One day, you will.”

Over the years, every time I think about it, I have a more profound appreciation for it. This guy flew 8,000km to disconnect from his day-to-day reality, and he did it right. Back home, he was a hard worker with tons of responsibility and stress. And here, well before the era of perpetual connectedness, he’d found his oasis and he milked it for all it was worth.

These days, it’s an inward-facing question I ask myself… when I find myself spending time on something I’d rather not: Would I rather be here, or sitting on a deck, staring off into a garden or ocean or space or whatever…

You don’t need me to tell you that we’re living in a crazy world… and that it’s probably going to get a fair bit crazier before it gets better… which means, more than ever, scheduling those “deck moments” ahead of time. Scheduling an entire week of them is a lofty goal we can only aspire towards, but every little bit helps. As the weather gets worse and the days get shorter and the stresses mount and the case-counts and hospitalizations and ICU admission numbers all rise… find your deck – and visit it as often as you can.

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September 19, 2020

For a while, I was putting in guesses for the weekend numbers… since neither B.C. nor Alberta publish anything until Monday. I was further extrapolating that to give a good guess for Canada overall.

I’ve stopped doing that, because as good as my guesses were (sometimes), it’s effectively false advertising and could lead to false assumptions, so what’s the point. Let’s wait 2 days; no big deal.

Unfortunately, false advertising is all around us. I actually fell for it… something popped up on my Facebook… a radio-controlled near-indestructible plane. Surprisingly inexpensive. Cool, that’ll be fun to play with over the summer. For my son, of course, not me…

What arrived was nothing like what was promised. A tiny, very cheap single-layer Styrofoam cut-out stencil of a plane… that barely flew. No radio control of course. Nothing at all like the pictures or video. And, for the price-point, not worth pursuing, not worth sending back, not worth complaining. They know; just enough to grab your money and run. Not enough for any consumer silly enough to fall for it… to care. Had I done the tiniest bit of research, like read the comments below the item, I’d have seen plenty of entries like “Don’t fall for it!!” and “This is a scam!!”. Oh well, lesson learned.

Indeed… as a result of falling for it, my FB feed is now flooded with offers. Some are, I must say, really cool. Most, if not all, are scams. I fell for it once, and FB has decided I’m a sucker and, accordingly, tries to sucker me in one more time. The latest one that almost got me was a self-solving Rubik’s Cube for $12.99. Wow, cool… except, upon reading the comments, I learned it was a useless, cheap knock-off cube that did nothing special… least of all, solve itself.

Somewhere along the line, slim credibility went to zero… probably right around the time accountability did the same thing. With zero repercussions to just “making shit up”, here we are. Advertisers, politicians, whatever. Say whatever you want… to sell whatever you’re dishing out.

"Caveat Emptor" — it's been around so long that "Buyer Beware" originated in Latin, back in the Roman era. You remember, that great Republic of centuries past, that indestructible centre-of-the-universe Empire that would last forever.

What's the relevancy of all this? Ask me in a few weeks.

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August 19, 2020

When I was a little kid, we took a family trip to Britannia Beach and did the tour of the mine… which I highly recommend. Every aspect of that Britannia Mine is impressive. These days the museum has been re-done (they did extensive upgrades just before the 2010 Olympics)… and there is plenty to see and do.

One thing you could do back then (and still can today) is pan for gold.

They had a little fake river set up, and you’d take your pan and sift through the sand, and maybe find something. Indeed, you’d always find something because it was a tourist trap and they wanted you to leave happy… so for $5, you’d probably walk away with 50 cents worth of gold flakes that they’d salted the sand with.

For what it’s worth, panning for gold is a very Zen thing to do. Whenever I find myself on the banks of a river, I wish I had a pan with me. I really should throw one in the car, just in case. I’m unlikely to ever actually find anything, but… you know, it’s the journey, not the destination.

So… those many years ago, once I’d finished panning, the guy in charge fished out the few specks of gold I’d found and put them in a little clear plastic vial… full of water, and my little gold.

My father – the mining engineer – always had with him a couple of little gold nuggets that he had taped inside his wallet. Just something cool to carry around. One of them was perhaps half the size of a penny, and he took it out and put it in the vial. “There, that looks better”, he said.

The guy running the panning station was pretty amused, and they had a good laugh and talked gold for a bit… and, as they were talking, a busload of Japanese tourists showed up. They began looking around, and one came over to see what we were up to. The guy explained the whole panning-for-gold thing… and then my dad showed him the vial.

This tourist looked at the vial with great astonishment, and yelled out something in Japanese… which brought over more people, all of them looking at the vial with excitement. And then… they all wanted to pan for gold. There was only space (and pans) for maybe 10 people, but now there was a whole line up. My dad (and, for sure, the guy running it) were greatly amused.

So many metaphors and sayings you could attach to this little story. Certainly, the first one that comes to mind is… not everything that glitters is gold. The irony, of course, is that in this case, it literally was gold… but still, not the gold you’d expect. Pay attention to where the gold comes from. Pay attention to what you’re being shown. Be careful what you believe. I’m pretty sure none of those Japanese tourists walked away with anything close to what I had in my little vial. I wonder how many of them felt hoodwinked.

Yes, it’s election season down south, and there will be a lot of glittery golden messages being thrown around. They’ll look and sound so big and shiny and impressive. My American friends… and I realize the vast majority of people reading this are actually Canadian, but to those it reaches… like those Japanese tourists who probably didn’t go back to try a second time…don’t get hoodwinked. Once was enough.

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By |2020-10-08T01:09:45-07:00August 19th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Sports & Gaming, Space & Astronomy|Tags: , , , , |12 Comments

August 5, 2020

The plot device known as “deus ex machina” was invented by the Greeks, ages ago. It literally translates to “god from the machine”, where back in ancient Greek theatre, the actors playing the role would be hanging from ropes, or some sort of machine, sweeping in to save the day, in whatever context was needed.

From a literary/artistic point of view, this has its detractors… for obvious reasons. It has the potential to wreck an otherwise excellent story with a convenient miracle to undo the entire struggle that led to that point. William Golding was criticized for this in “Lord of the Flies”… after building up an incredible narrative with intriguing and insightful and though-provoking ideas… suddenly, in a just a few pages, a ship arrives, rescues the boys, The End.

It’s not always that blunt, but you get the idea… and it fit well with the narratives of Greek Tragedies (and comedies)… and since then, it’s appeared all over the place. H.G. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds”… big, powerful aliens have the technology to travel across the universe with a battle fleet ready to destroy earth… until they themselves are destroyed by bacteria. Actually, almost identically, Will Smith’s aliens in “Independence Day” – and a computer virus.

You get the idea; it’s when something appears out of nowhere, just in the nick of time… to save the day, like divine intervention.

There are a few versions of this these days to consider. One, of course, is Donald Trump’s hope that this is what will resolve the giant mess his country finds itself in, much of which is his responsibility. Numerous times, he’s stated how it’ll just go away, like a miracle, burn itself out, vanish overnight, whatever. Unfortunately for him, the real world doesn’t operate that way; even the ancient Greeks knew that.

More recently, Trump did an interview with Jonathan Swan on HBO, and the entire thing is now available on YouTube. It is an astonishing 40 minutes of incoherent, delusional nonsense. And great kudos to Mr. Swan who, unlike pretty-much every other reporter, didn’t acquiesce to Donald Trump’s bullshit. He called him on it, repeatedly… though, as expected, when DT has no answer, he deflects away, onto the next incoherent, irrelevant point. The end result of it was asking yourself… what did I learn from that? The answer will be… not much. There was nothing factually useful in Trump’s responses, other than confirmation that he actually doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. You can’t accuse him of actually lying when he doesn’t actually get it. That much was made obvious when the problems with his fist-full of printouts were explained back to him.

Donald Trump has had a hovering “deus ex machina” all his life. First, it was daddy Fred who handheld his inept narcissist of a son through childhood and adolescence, paving and smoothing-out what otherwise would’ve (and should’ve) been a dead-end path.

Then it was Trump’s problem solvers, many of whom are now in prison, having themselves acquiesced to illegalities to keep their guy happy.

Then it was the Republican party and the White House and all the “yes-men” he could gather… and, as we’ve seen with textbook narcissists, once the “yes” turns into anything but… even a “maybe”, let alone a “no” – you’re out of there. The best people, tremendous people, beautiful people… exit stage left, with a knife in their back and a grade-school cheap insulting nickname to be Twittered about incessantly.

During the interview, you could see Trump looking around at his people. “Help”, his eyes pleaded. Help me. Rescue me. Where’s my DeM? It wouldn’t have been too presidential to stand up, rip off the mic and make a scene, like so many celebrities love doing when they’re asked a question they don’t like… no, The President had to sit through it, very uncomfortably in parts, and hang himself just a little bit more with every astonishing, baseless, irrelevant word.

There are no machines big enough, ropes strong enough, storylines believable enough… that would have a Deus sweep in to save the day for him. His mistakes will follow him into eternity, where maybe he can have a discussion with Deus Himself. That’s Who it’d take to make him understand.

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August 2, 2020

Island living… island schedule… the fact that this post is on time is quite an achievement.

Another incredible achievement was today’s return of those two SpaceX astronauts who spent 2 months on the ISS, and who splashed down safely back to earth this morning.

This pandemic sort of has us all on “island time”… certainly, it felt like March had about 79 days in it, and I’m sure that more than once, we all woke up wondering what day it was. Whatever, “island time”.

I wrote about those astronauts (among other things) the day they blasted off, May 30th… I just went back and read what I wrote, and it’s pretty good – if you didn’t read it the first time around, here’s a convenient link:

https://kemeny.ca/2020/05/30/day-75-may-30-2020/

But what’s interesting… as per “island time”… it feels like I wrote that 6 months ago. So much has happened since.

And one of the things that’s happened is the slow and steady increase in daily new cases in B.C… back on May 30th, that whole week was just single-digit increases every day.

We have data up to Friday, and those last three days… the last W T F were… +39, +29, +50. WTF indeed.

Let’s try get back to earth… safely, like those astronauts. As rough as the ride may have been… and from 27,600 km/h on the ISS, down to 26 km/h when they hit the water on splashdown… as bumpy as the ride may have been, they made it.

It takes thousands of hours of training for them, and many others, to achieve that… and a lot of it was listening to instructions and following them.

Here’s 10 seconds of training that’ll help get us all to a safe splashdown; socially distance and wear a mask. It’s not rocket science.

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